Nougat surprise

I just updated my Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge to the latest Android Nougat OS.

So far, I hate it. The name is appropriate because it reminds me of those awful old-fashioned candies only old people eat.

Nougat = Yuck.

Let’s begin with the Contacts/Call app settings. It took away Favorites and stuffed it in with the Contacts list. Favorites went from being nice and orderly — each Favorite easily accessible in a grid pattern, launched with just a touch — and has been reduced to an ordinary listview and is now part of the Contact List, which means now you have to do a lot more scrolling to find a contact, favorite or otherwise. How is that an improvement?

The Photos Gallery has also changed. Albums were laid out in a nice easy to see grid pattern, each grid square represented an album with a thumbnail of the the latest picture. Now it’s changed to a list. More scrolling. Obviously some programmer likes list view versus grid view.

They changed how Folders open. They used to open as a well-defined box superimposed above the rest of the screen. Now when you open a folder, it becomes the main screen, which just causes visual confusion.  Am I on the main screen or what? And now if you have more than  9 apps in a folder, the others are gone. Well, it seems that way until you realize the others reside on a second page inside that folder. Again, confusing. Before, you could see you had more apps inside the folder because they’d peek out at the bottom of the open folder. I’m surprised they didn’t change the Folders  to list view as well.

Another change concerning Folders, you launch an app from the folder, then when you finish and close with the phone’s back arrow, you find yourself back on that same Folder. Before, the Folder would close when the app was launched. This is one feature I’m ambivalent about. Do I like it or not? Only time will tell. I guess if you have a lot of apps in a Folder that you launch then close then immediately open the next app in that same Folder, this feature could prove useful.

The look and feel of the Pull Down Notifications and Menus at the top have changed as well. Again, you have to relearn how to do something you already knew how to do or where to find it. The look and feel of Settings has changed as well.

Facebook has changed, too, but I don’t know if that’s part of the Nougat upgrade or if Facebook updated their app at the same time.

For example: Now there is this extra icon bar at the top between the original menu ribbon and the “What’s on your mind?” status input. It contains a button called, “Direct,” one called “Your Story,” and yesterday it had something else I can’t remember now, but today it has a button with the name of one of my FB friends. When I click on it, it shows me his face all distorted with lights shooting from his eyes. WTF is that for? No explanation. 

I don’t mind change if it has obvious improvements. So far, with Nougat all I see is they polished all the bells and whistles  and moved them around just enough to be annoying. I’m curious what functional changes took place. 

Will I get used to the changes? Sure. We always do, but the real question is why should we have to?  What was wrong with grid view that they had to change it, for instance?

At least give us the option to choose which view we prefer, like:

  • Grid View – View lists in a pleasing,  orderly, and quickly  understood grid with easily recognisable thumbnails, or
  • List View – View lists in a dull, old-fashioned, and hard-to-read list format that you have to scroll through to find anything.

I think you know which one of pick.

Essentially, Nougat  is just showboating by the programmers, nothing more.

I give the Nougat upgrade a C, with the option to change that grade as I learn more about it.

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The Edge of Tripe

I apologize for not posting much recently, but I’ve actually been doing some real writing, fiction-type writing. 

And no, I wasn’t participating in NaNoWriMo. I don’t need an artificial challenge to write shit. I can write shit all on my own, thank you very much.

And speaking of shit, I thought I’d do a long term review on my smartphone, the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge. I first reviewed it here. OK, it wasn’t a review so much as I savaged it.

Well, time hasn’t improved matters. After six months of ownership, I’m chomping at the bit to replace this piece of shit. It is by far the worst smartphone I’ve ever owned and I’ve owned a few.

My first “smartphone” was an LG something or other with a slide-out keyboard. it wasn’t an android device, it had a weird user-interface and to get online (which I rarely did because we didn’t have a data plan at the time) you clicked on the LG browser icon and were launched into an AOL-style experience. Anyway, it came out about the time the iPhone first did, before android, when Crackberry dominated the market and touchscreens were still in their infancy.

My next real smartphone was the first generation Samsung Galaxy S. I liked it at first, but quickly found it didn’t like the area where I had just started working: downtown in the mall.

Thus started my love/hate with smartphones. The building I’m in is, as I’ve mentioned, like a Faraday Cage. Reception within sucks. Although some people seem to do it, I haven’t been able to. 

That first gen Samsung Galaxy S wouldn’t connect to the Internet until I did a hard restart by yanking the battery once I stepped outside my building. 

My next phone was the iPhone 4S. Oh, yay, Seri! Personally, I don’t get the whole fad of talking to your phone (or those Google home devices where you can turn on the sprinklers to get rid of annoying people on your lawn). I don’t like to talk. Period. Not to people. Not to my devices. Seri, therefore, was a wasted accessory for me. But beyond that, and at first I was thrilled with the iPhone, I soon came to loathe it. For many reasons which I won’t get into. I’m sure I ranted about them four or five years ago. But the iPhone’s reception sucked, too. I had to do a hard reboot all the time to connect to the Internet.

At this point, I’d tried Android and the iPhone and found both lacking, so I picked up a Nokia Win7 phone. If memory serves, the hardware was pretty decent (Yay Finland!), but the disappointing part was the lack of apps for Windows phones.Basically, with that phone I could get online, but the apps sucked so bad it didn’t really matter that I’d gotten on.

My next phone was the Motorola Droid Turbo. I liked this phone, except the camera sucked. it was like time warping back to 1998. This phone suffered from severe digital lag. Snap a picture and seconds later the picture takes. Forget action shots unless you could anticipate when something would happen. “Oh, my son’s shooting a basket!” *click!* And by the time the phone reacted, all the players were already at the other end of the court. “Hey, nice shot of an empty court, dude.” Shut up.

So I traded that in for this, the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge. Yes, it takes excellent pictures. I have a great portable camera.

But for anything else? It sucks. As I mentioned in my first look post, the receiver is THE worst. (Pronounce it like thee for full effect.) I have to restart or do a shutdown all the time so it’ll find a signal.

Wi-Fi isn’t any better. I can sit right next to my wife in our house and she’s Facebooking and Instagramming like all get out, but there I sit only a few feet away unable to get a fucking signal. It can’t find the Wi-Fi. And she owns the standard Samsung Galaxy S7! WTF?

Does hers have a better receiver? Because her phone is thicker, was Samsung able to squeeze a bigger, more powerful receiver in hers and we S7 Edge owners get stuck with inferior crap?

I don’t know. All I do know is I hate this piece of shit phone and I can’t wait until I can trade it in for something else. Maybe the new Motorola Droid Turbo 2, if they’ve improved the camera. Or possibly the latest LG (which I was looking at until the Verizon Wireless rep talked me into this POS. “Oh, the S7 is so much better!” Or maybe I’ll get the latest HTC, that one with the stereo speakers, because the speaker on the S7 Edge is horrible. No. Horrible would be a improvement. You need headphones to listen to videos because it its one weak ass tiny speaker on the bottom can’t be heard unless you’re isolated inside soundproof room.

Okay. Sorry. That really wasn’t a review so much as as rant about every smartphone I’ve ever owned, was it? This phone really has me on edge. Pun intended.

Maybe one day I’ll find a phone I can be happy with. 

What do you have? Are you happy with it? Whose your carrier? Are you satisfied with them? Feedback it’s appreciated.

Until next time.

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Samsung Edge disappoints

I’ve had my Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge for little over a week now and I can tell you this: it sucks.

I know what you’re thinking. “How can that be? Everyone is raving about it. I’ve read the reviews!”

Sure, the Edge gorgeous. It’s got that cool curved edge on the screen with scrolling notifications. And the camera is fantastic. It’s the best phone camera I’ve owned.

“Well then what’s the problem?”

It’s the receiver. This phone has the worst receiver of any phone I’ve ever owned with the possible exception of the crappy free noname Sprint phone we got back in 1995.

As you know, I work in a Faraday Cage-like building. But I know that and really don’t expect much in the way of Internet access. I do, however, expect to be able to receive calls at my desk–like every other cellphone I’ve owned.

Not this one. It rings, I answer, it drops the call.

I’m also aware that the mall I walk in on breaks when the weather is inclement (and this is Wisconsin, so the weather is always inclement) is called the Black Hole by the cellphone stores inside it.

But I’ve also been walking it for 6 years.  Six years and 5 phones. I know all the areas where there is weak reception and avoid the one dead spot.

The receiver on the Edge is so piss poor, the entire mall is one big dead spot! Even though it says it has a couple bars of 4G LTE, it still chugs away before giving me the notice “Try again when you’re online.”

I am online, asshole!

And you’d think going outside would clear things up, but no. Even in the open the Edge finds the dead spots.

“Post will appear when you’re online” is Facebook’s standard response to my attempts to post from this phone. It really chaps my ass.

It’s sad that I have to carry my little Jetpack mobile Hotspot with me so I can get online with this phone, but that’s the situation.

Yet even its reception of Wi-Fi sucks. We have home Wi-Fi and all our phones and devices can pick it up throughout the house and in the yard.

Not the Edge. I go outside and it complains there is no Wi-Fi signal. But instead of switching to the 4G network, it just sits in Limbo, unable to make up its mind what to do. Leaving me without any Internet, wondering if I should just drop it into the grill and be done with it.

In the time it’s taken me to write this I’ve watched my Edge say “connected to Wi-Fi,” “Lost Wi-Fi,” “connected to Wi-Fi,” “Lost Wi-Fi,” countless times.

So, in summary, if you plan on using the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge for anything other than a fairly decent camera, you’ll be sorely disappointed.

And the “beast of a battery” some reviews claim is pure bullshit. Maybe it’s an improvement over the S6, but compared to my last phone, the Droid Turbo, it’s like it doesn’t even have a battery. I have to charge it two or three times a day.

For a supposed state-of-the-art phone the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge is a monstrous disappointment.

Makes me wonder if Samsung isn’t engaging in a little payola to get those glowing reviews for this POS.

I wonder if Verizon will let me swap for the latest LG?

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Day 5 with Motorola Droid Turbo

It’s been five days that I’ve had the Motorola Droid Turbo. So far, I find it to be a great phone. Much better than the Nokia Lumia 928 I traded in for it. And tons better than the iPhone 4s I had prior to that.

Some quick thoughts: It’s fast. The apps open (some times they didn’t work at all on the Nokia Win8 phone) quickly and operate flawlessly.

It has really nice Internet reception and data transfer at work and in the mall I walk. I’ve only had two minor “Lost Internet Connection” issues and one was in the enclosed stairwell. That’s a whole lot better than my previous three smartphones. The Samsung Galaxy S had a habit of hanging up completely because it couldn’t get a signal in our building. I’d have to shut it down and take out the battery to get it to resync to the Internet. The iPhone hung up, too, often requiring me to do a hard restart. The Nokia wasn’t bad except for the fact that none of the social media apps worked. I could get things through the browser, sometimes. I give it an B+.

The battery is pretty impressive. I unplugged it this morning at 6:30 am and right now at 5:00 pm, it’s at 28%. That’s pretty incredible. Those other phones? I’d have had to plug in by Noon! Sure, the ads say the battery will last two days, but I’m a heavy user. I give it an A+.

As a music player? When I try to drag M4a or WMA, nothing happens. It shows up in the file manager, but you can’t see it in the phone’s player. It only takes MP3 files. Guess I have to figure out how to convert all my files to MP3. That’s a bummer. But the player itself? Awesome. Best sound I’ve ever heard from a smartphone. Great stereo separation. It’s like I’m hearing these songs that I’ve listened to on all my previous phones for the first time. For the sound, I give it an A+, but because I can’t figure out how to use M4a or WMA on it, I give it an overall B+.

The camera. I read one review that said this was the Droid Turbo’s weak point. What? It is 21megapixels. I thought my Nokia, with it’s 8.7 mp with the Carl Zeiss lens was decent, but this, well, even I can take some nice, in focus, pictures. Even my state-of-the-art SLRs couldn’t do that. I give it an A+.

So far, I haven’t run across any negatives on the Droid Turbo. Granted, it’s only been five days and these are just first impressions. But so far, the Droid Turbo is a great smartphone.

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Buh-Bye WIndows Phone

My first touchscreen phone was an LG. It wasn’t an Android, this was long before Google. Nor did I have a data plan, so my Internet use on it was limited. Mostly used for texting, with a flip open keyboard, and as a phone. You know, that thing people do when they hold the object to their head and say, “Hello? Is Joe there?”

But then the true smartphone revolution started. IOS, then Android (forget about all those silly first attempts like the Palm Pilot and Crackberry — which for about 2 seconds I had thought about the Crackberry Storm, but then I came to my senses), and of course, Windows.

My first smartphone in this area was the Samsung Galaxy S. I believe it was the first iteration. At first blush, it was a pretty great phone. But after a few months, that blush turned to a flush of anger as I discovered more and more things about it that simply irritated me. I probably blogged about that at some point.

So when that contract was up, I switched to the Apple iPhone 4S. And again, at first blush, I thought it was marvelous. I became an Apple fanboy. I was going to switch every electronic device I owned over to Apple, but that lasted for only about a year, then I started getting irritated by it again. For one thing, since it was an Apple, everything was proprietary. I had to use their music service, which also meant their software on my computer, software that wasn’t always compatible with my Windows machine. There were other complaints, which I’m sure I blogged about, but most critical to me was writing. The iPhone just didn’t have a writing program completely compatible with MS Word. And the teeny tiny screen made editing on it a nightmare.

So I divested myself of that as quickly as I could and picked up a Windows 8 Nokia Lumia 928. Best thing about it? It had a phone version of Word that was completely compatible with my laptop’s version. I could edit on it without any hiccups or complaints. So for that reason alone, I was happy. But, as the year went on, I started to realize how pathetic Win8 apps were. I thought I could live without many of the ones I had on my Android and my iPhone, but no. There wasn’t an app for my bank, or an app for Wisconsin Public Radio, or Live365, for starts. But more importantly, the apps it did have, Facebook, Twitter, and so on, were crap. More often than not, when connecting to Facebook, I received an error, “We’re having trouble receiving data.” Totally frustrating and it got to the point where that was the deal-breaker. A smartphone without useable apps is a paper weight.

So guess what? Yes. I have a new phone. I’ve gone back to Android. If it isn’t 100% compatible with my laptop, at least it will be compatible with my Samsung tablet.

What did I get? The just released Motorola Droid Turbo. Just released the day we bought it. Verizon has just started the ad campaign for it. I’ll let you know how much I like it in a few years, but so far, the Facebook app flies! Literally. Whereas the Win8 phone took forever to load, then took an addition forever to refresh, this one is open the instant you touch it and it responds instantly to every touch. Beautiful.

To me, the 21 megapixel camera itself is worth the price of admission. It puts my Nokia, which had an 8.7 mp camera with a Carl Zeiss lens, to shame.

My youngest son has had the Motorola Droid Maxx for a few months and has been very happy with it. I know Motorola fell on hard times for a while there after creating the original Droid, which was all the buzz back then. But things fell apart and much of their equipment was less than stellar. Then they were bought out by Google, and now by Lenovo, which puts them in very good hands. Lenovo makes some excellent devices.

As the months go by, I’ll try to give a report on my impressions, first, and with continued use, but for now:

Hello Moto.

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Windows 8: To phone or not to phone

As I mentioned in previous blog posts, I just got a new computer with Windows 8, which I really like and I’m getting fed up with the teeny tiny screen on my iPhone, among other gripes.

So instead of just jumping back to an Android phone (I think I blogged about my experiences with my Samsung Galaxy S a few years back), I’m taking a serious look at the Windows 8 phones.

OK, first, I understand Win8 has nowhere near the amount of apps that are available on Android or iPhone. I get that. I look at my iPhone and I have a ton of apps.

But how many do I actually use? Only a handful. Mostly email, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Amazon, eBay, Kindle, and WordPress. And except for WordPress, all of those are available on Win8. Mostly everything else I do, I do through a browser any way. Banking? My bank is bassackwards so no app. I use a browser. I visit a couple message boards and use the Browser.

The only thing I might miss is my Sky Junk app that let’s me hold the phone up to the sky and show me what star is what and sometimes track the International Space Station. But to be honest, the iPhone astronomy apps aren’t anywhere near as good as the Android app I had years ago, so no big deal if Win8 doesn’t have them.

Games? I don’t play games. Period.

I do write, however, and aside from the iPhone’s teeny tiny piece of fucking shit virtual keyboard, my biggest gripe with the iPhone is I’ve had no documentation compatibility. I haven’t been able to write. Not as prolifically as I’d like. Is it really too much to ask for a free app that can open and edit docs in any format, including .ODT? I guess so because I never found it.

So yes, I’m seriously looking at a Win8 phone. I really would love that Nokia Lumia 1020 with that awesome 41megapixel camera. YouTube it. There are some demonstrations of it that will blow you away. They show a picture of a haystack and they zoom in and in and in and the detail gets sharper and sharper until you can see each individual piece of hay, complete with the seed head and there! Look! You found it. The needle in the haystack! And you can zoom in and see the eye with no pixelating. No distortions. Well, at least they could.

Unfortunately, there are two problems with it. The first is, even with a 2 year contract, it’ll cost around $300. The second is, it’s only available on AT&T and even though my Verizon Wireless contract is up and I could jump ship, I won’t. We had AT&T for a while. Was not a fan of their service, which was so poor our phones would cut out AT HOME! The basement? Forget it. No signal. But even in the rest of the house, we’d have to go upstairs to talk. Nor was there customer service much to speak of then. Maybe they’ve improved, but at this point, better the devil you know than the one you don’t know.

So for Verizon, the flagship Win8 phone is the Nokia Lumia 928. What I like about it:

1) It’s Finnish.
2) The camera has a Carl Zeiss lens and a Zenon (not LED) flash.
3) Win8 means its compatible with my laptop and files, unlike the too numerous to mention here current iPhone/PC laptop issues (no more iTunes! Yay!).
4) Did I mention it’s Finnish?
5) It has a speaker that they claim can achieve 140 decibels (the same as a jet taking off)!
6) Se on Suomen!

Reviews mention negatives like:
1) A dull design. Oh, like my iPhone is so great looking.
2) Poor battery performance that won’t make it to evening. Again, my iPhone isn’t any better. On average, I have to plug in around noon because the battery is down to 30 or 40%.
3) No external memory. Hello! iPhone.
4) No removable battery *waves his iPhone*
5) The Verizon Nokia model only comes in black and white (no brilliant red!). Because, you know, my iPhone is so colorful.

So essentially, the Nokia Lumia 928 negatives are exactly the same as the negatives I’ve been living with for two years with my iPhone. No big deal.

The only real issue I have with Win8 is the feature they seem to think is the most important one. Live tiles. So you’re connected and informed the minute you wake your phone or laptop. Well, maybe I’m weird this way,, but I shut all my live times off. To me, that’s just wasting juice. It’s like leaving the TV on when no one is in the room. Sure, as soon as I walk back I’m instantly aware of what show is on, but is that really necessary? I don’t think so. So I’ll probably turn off all the live tiles on my win8 phone just as I turned off all the notifications on my iPhone, thereby saving battery power and my reducing monthly quota of data usage.

Really, I don’t want my phone constantly buzzing and bothering me. If I want to know what’s going on with Facebook, I’ll open the app. Twitter? I’ll open it. Email? I’ll open it. eBay? OK, that you can notify me. I don’t want to miss out on a watched item. But everything else? Stop notifying me!

Sorry. Minor rant. So there you have it. My reasons why I’m going to get a Win8 phone.

Besides, that new Samsung Galaxy S 4 with the ability to pause when you look away from a video? That’s like electronic stalking. Bad enough the phones keep bothering me with notifications, now it’s watching me watch it? That’s just so NSA creepy. No thanks.

Update 07August2013: I stopped at the Windows Kiosk to look at the Win8 phones. That Nokia 1020 takes some awesome pictures! Too bad it’s only available on AT&T, which begs the question, why do all the new exciting phones come out on AT&T and Sprint while Verizon offers all the decrepit, old phones? The newest phone Verizon offers is from November of last year. They don’t have the cool HTC One or the Nokia. And even the phones they do get are boring black and white. Where’s the Red Nokia Lumia 928?

And I talked to the Windows store rep who said, “The Windows 8 phones come with Microsoft Office apps so you can edit your docs from your phone!” (He didn’t speak with exclamation marks. That’s just how I felt.) “On the phone? As in free?” I asked. “Yes! Free!” (Again, the exclamation marks and excitement was mine, not his.)

Take my money!

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Obsolescence, planned or contrived with evil intent?

It has occurred to me that maybe I’m not having phone issues so much as planned obsolescence issues.

My Samsung Galaxy S was a great phone for well over a year but then started acting up toward the end of my contract. Since it was having so many issues, I started thinking Android phones were crap so I switched to the iPhone.

Well, for over a year my iPhone 4s was da bomb. Now that its contract end is nearing, it too is starting to act up.

I suspect now that the issue might not be with the phones, the hardware, but with the service provider, my cellphone carrier, Verizon Wireless.

It is quite possible, in a paranoid sort of way, that Verizon, in their desire for me to upgrade and lock me into another 2 year plan, is purposely making my phones misbehave. Maybe they’re constricting my data stream. Or even outright denying service. That would explain why I can’t make calls or even get a signal until I have to restart the phone. Right?

Maybe I should switch CARRIERS instead of phones. Since we already have AT&T Uverse for cable television and Internet, maybe they could offer us a cell phone bundle.

I think I’ll look into it and migrate each of our phones to AT&T as their contracts all expire and thereby avoid cancelation penalties.

Or maybe Sprint. We had them in the late 90s and they sucked (or it could have been the shitty free phone we got), and I see they offer the Samsung Galaxy S III for free instead of the $100 or $200 AT&T and Verizon charge. I see from one review that (and this surprises me) that they have better coverage than either Verizon or AT&T but it looks like they charge more. Almost $200 more for a similar 4G share plan! And they charge nearly twice what those two charge for each additional smartphone.

What other carriers are there? T-Mobile? Thats the 4th largest carrier. US Cellular is the 6th largest.

Too bad Cingular got absorbed. I really liked them. (And that was a really convoluted history. Cingular bought AT&T Wireless, but somehow AT&T itself owned 60% of Cingular and BellSouth owned 40% so when AT&T bought BellSouth, they owned all of Cingular and rebranded it AT&T and all the while SBC Communications had bought and absorbed AT&T then rebranded all SBC stuff AT&T. Got it? Neither do I.)

And then there’s CREDO mobile, a progressive activist company that helps battle the evil Right-wingers while supporting progressive causes (and they’ll help pay for your cancelation penalties). They use Sprint’s network, but have a different price plan.

So time to do some research. I love research.

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